2018 Empty Storefronts Conference presented by NAIOP

Monday, November 5, 2018 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM HUB640 MapMap
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2018 Empty Storefronts Conference

presented by NAIOP

Event Details:

NAIOP, WI the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and NEWaukee present the 4th Annual Empty Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts.

At the Empty Storefronts Conference, we will be spending the day exploring Milwaukee’s neighborhoods and hearing from local, regional, and national experts on unique, progressive, and thought provoking ways to revitalize and activate vacant spaces. Attendees will be able to choose their own morning and afternoon breakout sessions, keep an eye out as we confirm our speaker lineup to start planning your itinerary!

Parking Information:

2nd and Michigan Lot – Secure Parking USA


With the easiest access to and from the freeway, this lot is perfect for daily commuters into downtown Milwaukee. Walking distance to the Grand Avenue Mall, hotels, restaurants, the NEWaukee Night Market and the Westown Farmer’s Market.

Additional Info:

This event is part of Startup Milwaukee Week 2018.

Startup Milwaukee Week presented by Advocate Aurora Health takes place on November 5 – 11, 2018, and is designed to connect, educate, and celebrate entrepreneurship in Southeast Wisconsin. The week’s programming showcases the community’s emerging companies while highlighting the resources and organizations available to foster support for entrepreneurs on their journey. The week will feature 40+ events hosted by 35+ partner organizations in the community. Startup Milwaukee Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, Milwaukee Business Journal and Newsradio 620 WTMJ and is a part of the Startup Wisconsin initiative.

Startup Wisconsin is committed to advancing asnd developing Wisconsin’s tech and startup ecosystems through unique programming, collaborative partnerships, and networking. Driven by entrepreneurs and leaders throughout Wisconsin who are passionate about making a difference, and creating a positive and lasting impact that will advance the state’s economy forward.  Startup Wisconsin Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, Wisconsin Inno and Newsradio 620 WTMJ.

2018 Sponsorships are still available! Put yourself in front of leading professionals from the creative, economic development, commercial real estate and development industries.  Check out these opportunities! Please contact Jim Villa, Chief Executive Officer, NAIOP Wisconsin, Ph: 414.870.1873 E: jim@naiop-wi.org


Check out some highlights from previous years!


Click here to download a PDF version of the schedule.

8:00AM-8:20AM Breakfast & Registration (HUB640)
8:20AM-8:30AM Opening Remarks (HUB640) Jeremy Fojut, CIO of NEWaukee
Jim Villa, President of NAIOP Wisconsin
Name Presentation Title Company Location Speaker’s City
Keynote (HUB640)
8:30AM-9:00AM Sarah Filley “Popuphood: The Transformational Power of Creative Retail Ecosystems” Pop Up Hood Hub 640 Los Angeles
9:00AM-9:45AM Von Briesen Panel “New Faces In Old Spaces: Hotels & Restaurants Creatively Use Vacant Spaces” Von Briesen, Marcus Corporation Hub 640 Milwaukee
9:45AM-10:30AM Town Bank Panel “Understanding Culture for Neighborhood Economic Development Success” Town Bank, Chicago Trends Hub 640 Milwaukee and Chicago
Breakout 1 (Downtown Riverwalk)
11:00AM-11:30AM Beth Haskovec “Pop-Up MKE: Temporary Space for Economic Opportunity” LiSC Chase Tower Milwaukee
11:40AM-12:10PM Danielle Doll “Saving Face with Branded Space” Downtown Frederick Chase Tower
Frederick Maryland
11:00AM-11:30AM Dan Katt “Brewing Economic Development” Good City Brewing Co 100 East Milwaukee
11:40AM-12:10PM Johnathan Berk “Harnessing The Missed Opportunity in our Built Environment” Patronicity 100 East Boston
11:00AM-11:30AM Ari Takata-Vasquez “Creative Solutions–Rethinking Retail Real Estate Loss” Viscera 310 W Wisconsin Oakland
11:40AM-12:10PM Danielle DeRuiter-Williams “Who’s at the Table and Who’s on the Menu: Strategies to Promote Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in Community Engagement and Outreach” The Justice Collective 310 W Wisconsin Los Angeles
Breakout 2 (Mitchell St.)
1:30PM-2:00PM Emily Isenberg “From Vacant to Vibrant” Isenberg Project Public Library DC
2:05PM-2:35PM Rob Gerbitz “Breaking the Rules & Building a Reputation” Hendricks Group Public Library Beloit, WI
2:40PM-3:10PM Dan Devine ”Building Place and Building Community – How to be Both Gritty and Cool” City of West Allis Public Library West Allis
1:30PM-2:00PM David Mangum “Retail Triage: Identifying Targeted Techniques for Sustainable Commerce” Gibbs Planning 615 Mitchell St.
Detroit, Michigan
2:05PM-2:35PM Beth Reynolds “The Corner Spot, The #bestspotintown” The Corner Spot 615 Mitchell St. Massachusetts
2:40PM-3:10PM Joe Scanlin “Mapping the Future of Retail with Technology and Data” Scanalytics 615 Mitchell St. Milwaukee
Closing Keynote (MLK)
Deshea Agee (intro) (Intro to speaker) MLK BID Coakley Building Milwaukee
3:30PM – 4:00PM Tim Gokhman The Economics of Food Halls New Land Enterprises Coakley Building
4:00PM – 4:30PM Zach Vruwink / Cory Fish “Dark Store Debate” Wisconsin Rapids / WMC Coakley Building
Wisconsin Rapids / Madison
4:30-6:00PM Happy Hour (HUB640)


Neighborhood #1: West Wisconsin Avenue / HUB640
Welcome to West Wisconsin Avenue – a vibrant street anchoring the Westown neighborhood. It’s time to experience the ongoing renaissance, renewed energy and unparalleled opportunity that exists on Milwaukee’s main street.

Lifted by the momentum from a significant string of recently completed and under-construction projects, coupled by the optimism from new proposals, it’s no wonder that West Wisconsin Avenue is once again the heart of downtown Milwaukee. (milwaukeedowntown.com)

Neighborhood #2: Downtown Riverwalk
The Milwaukee RiverWalk winds through the heart of the city, tying together three distinct riverfront neighborhoods — the Historic Third Ward, Downtown, and Beerline B – and bringing you to the doorstep of some of the city’s best restaurants, brewpubs, shops, and nightlife.

Past and present artfully connect along the Downtown RiverWalk. This section traverses Milwaukee’s main thoroughfare, Wisconsin Avenue, and passes by its largest theater district, which includes the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, music venues Pabst and Riverside Theatres, and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera, and First Stage Children’s Theater. Warm summer evenings bring locals and visitors alike to Pere Marquette Park to listen to free weekly concerts as part of the RiverRhythms series. (visitmilwaukee.com)

Neighborhood #3: Mitchell Street
Located on Milwaukee’s South Side, Historic Mitchell Street once rivaled the City’s downtown shopping district. Many of the buildings still retain the historic architecture and are now home to new and exciting cultural clothing, dining and shopping destinations. Recent developments also include the new Gerald Ignace Indian Health Center which is up the street from the new planned branch of the Milwaukee Public Library. Make sure to head to Mitchell for a mix of the historic and international experiences. (city.milwaukee.gov)

Neighborhood #4: Bronzeville / Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
The historic economic and social heart of Milwaukee’s African-American community, this area is now the center of major redevelopment efforts. Annual festivals celebrate the strong roots of jazz and the arts in the neighborhood, and the main thoroughfare, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, is lined with African American-owned businesses. Enjoy the diverse dining and shopping establishments on this street and throughout surrounding neighborhoods like Harambee and Halyard Park. (visitmilwaukee.com)


Deshea Agee Executive Director, Historic King Drive BID

Deshea Agee was appointed Executive Director of Historic King Drive Business Improvement District No. 8 (King Drive BID) in February 2016. At King Drive BID Agee oversees implementation of the organization’s annual operating plan, including management of financial matters, business and property owner relations, business recruitment and community outreach. Agee began his career in public service as an Economic Development Specialist at the City of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development. He served nine years in the department, first as a project manager of the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District, and then leading commercial corridor revitalization efforts. Agee assisted in creating and implementing Milwaukee’s commercial property renovation grant programs, was a liaison to over a dozen business improvement districts and managed several tax increment districts. He also worked with Common Council members on initiatives in their Aldermanic districts, as well as Citywide initiatives such as the MKE Business Now Entrepreneurship Summit. Prior to his career in public service Agee served as the development assistant at Pabst Farms, a 1,500-acre mastered planned community.

A native of Milwaukee, Agee received his bachelor of science degree from Marquette University’s College of Business Administration in 1999. For over 10 years Agee has been licensed to practice real estate brokerage in the state of Wisconsin. He received the economic development finance professional (EDFP) certification through the National Development Council in 2016. Agee also earned a real estate certificate from Marquette University, as a member of the first graduating class of the ACRE (Associates in Commercial Real Estate) program in 2005. He currently is pursuing a Master of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin- Stout.

Agee serves on several boards including Legacy Redevelopment Corp (CDFI), Safe and Sound, Bublr Bikes, Scale Up Milwaukee Steering Council, and MKE United Steering Committee. He is also active in Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church as a Trustee and President of Mt. Zion Land Development Corporations I and II.

Joaquin Altoro Vice President of Commercial Banking, Town Bank

“Understanding Culture for Neighborhood Economic Development Success” Panel

As a proud native to Milwaukee’s vibrant community, he has become well acquainted with the diverse neighborhoods in order to serve its commercial banking needs. He is a multi-faceted community banking leader having both significant success aligning business strategies/objectives and a personal commitment to the unique economic development needs of neighborhoods at a local and national level. Joaquin has expertise in commercial banking, building supportive internal lending processes, and establishing and enhancing public and private partnerships. Through an engaged, high-energy approach and previous entrepreneurial experience, this experience complements strong business/quantitative acumen for advising community development projects and assisting individuals and businesses realize their current and future goals. When Joaquin is not working, he considers himself a self-proclaimed foodie. His travels and free time seem always to revolve around food. He enjoys cooking food from around the world for his brave and adventurous family.

Jonathan Berk – Director, Patronicity

Harnessing The Missed Opportunity in our Built Environment

Jonathan has worked as an attorney focusing on real estate development projects across Massachusetts for several years helping developers and investors realize their creative visions for development projects and communities. Working on these he realized there was always something missing. You can build “utopia” within the four walls of the building you’re working on but once you step outside, you’re reliant upon cash strapped municipalities to foot the bill. These community spaces are where innovation happens, where relationships are built and where cities and towns become a “community.” Today he leads the New England region of the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity which pairs hyper-local crowdfunding campaigns with large matching grant dollars in a process termed “crowdgranting” to effectively implement capital to improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the region.

Nick Boerke – von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

“New Faces In Old Spaces: Hotels & Restaurants Creatively Use Vacant Spaces” Panel

Nick Boerke is an Attorney concentrating his practice in real estate and has significant experience both in real estate litigation and real estate transactions. Nick has successfully litigated a range of real estate disputes, namely involving eminent domain and property taxation. Nick is an Affiliate Member of Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) and a member of the Public Policy Committee for NAIOP-Wisconsin.

Ann Chandler – von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

“New Faces In Old Spaces: Hotels & Restaurants Creatively Use Vacant Spaces” Panel

Ann Chandler is the Chair of the Real Estate Group at von Briesen. She focuses her practice on representing shopping centers, office parks, restaurants and residential developers in the acquisition, financing, development and leasing of real estate property. Ann has substantial experience in land use, development and zoning issues, real estate licensing and regulation, and title insurance issues. Ann is a member of the Public Policy Committee for NAIOP-Wisconsin and the Metropolitan Builders Association. She is licensed to practice law in Florida and Wisconsin. 

Danielle DeRuiter-Williams – CEO, The Justice Collective

“Who’s at the Table and Who’s on the Menu: Strategies to Promote Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in Community Engagement and Outreach”

Danielle DeRuiter-Williams, MBA, MA, MURP is a social change strategist and CEO of The Justice Collective. She is committed to organizational transformation that unapologetically centers race and class equity in every context. While leading TJC, Danielle founded and led the development of the San Francisco Planning Department’s first Racial and Social Equity Initiative which includes the creation and implementation of a comprehensive organizational strategy that identifies and leverages opportunities to advance racial equity. As a Senior Community Development Specialist, Danielle is trained in best practices for equitable and inclusive community engagement. Danielle holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Grand Valley State University, Master’s Degrees from the University of California Los Angeles in both Urban and Regional Planning and Afro-American Studies and an MBA from Mills College with a concentration in Equitable Organizational Development and Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Dan Devine – Mayor, City of West Allis

“Building Place and Building Community – How to be Both Gritty and Cool”

Devine is serving his third term as Mayor of West Allis. Prior to serving as mayor, he served one term as a Milwaukee County Supervisor for the 17th District. Devine graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a degree in Political Science.

Danielle Doll – Associate Director, Downtown Frederick Partnership

“Saving Face with Branded Space”

Currently, Danielle serves as Associate Director of Downtown Frederick Partnership, a nonprofit economic development and National Main Street organization in Frederick, MD. Danielle has extensive experience in nonprofits and spent much of her career in Washington, DC specializing in advocacy and fundraising strategies, online engagement, relationship cultivation and public relations.

Katie Falvey – The Marcus Corporation

“New Faces In Old Spaces: Hotels & Restaurants Creatively Use Vacant Spaces” Panel

Katie Falvey is vice president of real estate for Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation. She joined Marcus in 1997 as director of real estate marketing and property management, was promoted to director of real estate in 2005 and to her current role in 2015. Katie implements location and asset strategies for both Marcus Theatres and Marcus Hotels & Resorts as well as for the company’s real estate holding company, B&G Realty LLC. In addition to executing organic growth initiatives for the operating divisions, Katie oversees the sale/lease/management of the corporation’s 1.5 million square feet of surplus properties and non-operational, income-producing assets. Katie was Marcus’ team leader for the development of The Corners of Brookfield, a world class mixed-use shopping center now open in Brookfield. She is responsible for attracting Von Maur and numerous other national retailers to locate their first Wisconsin stores in the project and she led all aspects of The Corners’ implementation, including land assemblage, entitlements, design, leasing and financing. Katie’s work at Marcus currently involves new development and m&a activities in cities and neighborhoods throughout the country as well as spearheading several impactful real estate development projects in her hometown of Milwaukee. In addition, she assisted Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and WAMDC with the transition of the Grand Cinema on West Wisconsin Avenue to the future home of the MSO, and is responsible for bringing new retailers and businesses to Marcus properties in Milwaukee’s central business district. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for Downtown Milwaukee’s Business Improvement District #21 as well as on its Economic Development Committee, and was recently recognized as a “Woman of Influence” by The Business Journal of Milwaukee.

Cory Fish – Director of Tax, Transportation, and Legal Affairs, WMC
Zach Vruwink – Mayor, City of Wisconsin Rapids
“Dark Store Debate”

Cory Fish serves as WMC’s Director of Tax, Transportation and Legal Affairs. Prior to joining WMC, Cory worked for the State of Wisconsin. Most recently he worked for State Senator Alberta Darling, Co-Chair of the powerful Joint Committee on Finance, serving as her Legal Counsel. He also advised Sen. Darling on budget and policy issues ranging from higher education and regulatory reform to natural resources and transportation.Fish works with the legislature and state agencies to improve Wisconsin’s business climate by advocating for sensible tax policies, strong infrastructure, and a fair civil justice system.Cory earned a B.A. from UW-Eau Claire, Summa Cum Laude, and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he graduated Cum Laude. He is a licensed attorney in Wisconsin.

Zach Vruwink was elected in April 2012 as Wisconsin Rapids’ 22nd and youngest mayor in a historic four-way election. He was re-elected in 2014, 2016 and 2018. He is a native of Wisconsin Rapids – attended school, started and grew a business there. He is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is passionate about recreation, technology, citizen engagement and public service. He is a member and 2nd Vice President of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Board of Directors, member of the League of Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance board of directors, Steering Committee member of the Mayor’s Innovation Project and board member of the Boys & Girls Club of the WI Rapids Area and has held many past board positions with area organizations.

Key to his vision as a full-time Chief Elected Official and Mayor is a willingness to engage in efforts to rejuvenate Wisconsin Rapids’ economy and attractiveness, improve the quality of life for residents, modernize City government and operations as well as ongoing efforts to foster citizen engagement and participation.

Sarah Filley – CEO & Cofounder, Popuphood

“Popuphood: The Transformational Power of Creative Retail Ecosystems”

Sarah R. Filley is an artist and social entrepreneur based out of Los Angeles, CA. As CEO & Cofounder of Popuphood, she advocates for micro-entrepreneurs, designs adaptive spaces, creative places, strategic policies, and innovative systems to accelerate inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth for the cities of the future.

Filley brings design thinking to city scale with contributions in planning, placemaking, economic development, teaching, and policy. Her artistic practice hacks technology with humor in the service of wonder to re-engage citizens with the city as a platform, resulting in a dynamic reflection of social, economic, and historical forces; our dreams, hopes and deepest desires.

As a participant in a prestigious roster of national organizations she shares her creative approach to local economic development with international cities, national panels, and webinars. Popuphood has been awarded participation in the 2012 Venice Biennale for Architecture US pavilion in Venice, Italy and in the 2013 Venice Biennale in Chicago, IL and Filley has been quoted about Popuphood’s work in the Bay Area in global reports like ArtPlace and PSFK along with the national press like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Fast Company, The Huffington Post to name a few.

Rob Gerbitz – President & CEO, Hendricks Commercial

“Breaking the Rules & Building a Reputation”

In January 2009 Robert (Rob) Gerbitz was hired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Hendricks Commercial Properties (HCP). HCP is a national diversified real estate investment and development company headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin. Diane Hendricks, Chairman, started the company in 1974 with a core focus into industrial and multi- family real estate, investment and development. Today the company comprises of 10 million plus square feet located in 30 states with its core asset classes being industrial, retail, mixed use commercial/residential and hospitality.

Mr. Gerbitz’s responsibilities include the oversight and direction of all business operations, initiatives and strategic planning for the company and its subsidiaries. As a core focus of this strategic plan Mr. Gerbitz’s responsibilities and objectives are the business development and real estate revitalization of Downtown Beloit and Rock County as a whole. As such Mr. Gerbitz directs and guides this initiative through the company’s asset management division to build and develop relationships through the financial and brokerage communities as well as through public and private initiatives, programs and partnerships.

Beth Haskovec – Program Officer, LISC Milwaukee

“Pop-Up MKE: Temporary Space for Economic Opportunity”

At LISC Milwaukee, Beth oversees commercial corridor revitalization and creative placemaking strategies that resist displacement and utilize equitable economic development practices to ensure that economic growth is inclusive of people and neighborhoods who have traditionally faced barriers to economic mobility. Beth brings over 15 years of experience to her role working at the intersection of the arts and economic development.

Prior to joining LISC Beth served as Executive Director of Artists Working in Education, where she strategically grew organizational impact through aligning arts and culture programming with neighborhood development goals. Beth received her BA from the University of Northern Iowa, and is an alumna of Peace Corps and Americorps VISTA. She has served on the board of the Milwaukee Artist Resource Network, the Milwaukee County Arts Fund, Womankind Worldwide, and the Milwaukee Forum.

Emily Isenberg – Founder / Creative Director, Isenberg Projects

“From Vacant to Vibrant”

Emily Isenberg is the Founder and Creative Director of Isenberg Projects, a Boston based creative strategy and experiential marketing firm. Founded in 2012, Emily has built Isenberg Projects into one of the northeast’s go-to firms for fresh and exciting pop-up activations, according to the Boston Globe, and in the process has become one of the most respected voices on thinking outside the box in Boston’s retail and real estate scenes.

Drawing on over a decade’s worth of experience in event marketing and production, Emily has overseen and lead creative activations for large-scale corporations, institutions, universities, and brands in both the public and private sectors across the country. With clients ranging from property owners like Jamestown Properties, Harvard University to the Cities of Boston, MA and Alexandria, VA, from Mass Development to Kanye West and everything in between, Emily and her team have positioned Isenberg Projects to be a valuable asset to anyone looking to break through the noise and stand out in increasingly crowded industries for years to come.

Emily holds a BA in Marketing and Communications from Lesley University, has served as a Fellow of the Startup Leadership Program, is currently a contributor to Forbes magazine, and is a featured member of Forbes’ Boston Business Council.

Dan Katt – Co-founder and CEO, Good City Brewing

Good Opportunities

A native of Milwaukee, Dan left the Badger State in 2000 to attend the University of Iowa, where he played Big Ten Football, and earned a degree in Civil Engineering. After four years in Iowa City, Dan came home to work for Findorff, one of the Midwest’s leading builders. Dan advanced through the company and held roles in engineering, management, and ultimately business development, before taking a job with Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA), the largest architectural firm in the city. Dan spent nearly two years at EUA as Project Development Director, but soon realized he had an unwavering entrepreneurial itch.

Tony Lindsay – North Wells Capital

“New Faces In Old Spaces: Hotels & Restaurants Creatively Use Vacant Spaces” Panel

Tony Lindsay is Principal of Asset Management at North Wells Capital (NWC), a Chicago-based investment management affiliate of real estate firm, Urban Innovations. At NWC, Tony oversees the execution of the company’s investment strategy. He brings over 20 years of experience to his role providing extensive knowledge to maximize a property’s value and build relationships in the financial and brokerage communities. Prior to joining NWC, Tony served as Vice President of Construction for Urban Innovations, where he managed all construction phases of tenant and capital improvement projects. Tony is a graduate of Purdue University’s construction management program within the School of Technology.

David Mangum – Vice President, Gibbs Planning Group

Retail Triage: Identifying Targeted Techniques for Sustainable Commerce

David Mangum is Vice President at Gibbs Planning Group in Birmingham, Michigan. He has worked to improve the commerce in over 100 downtowns, shopping centers and new town centers throughout North America. His expertise is in finding creative solutions to integrate retail industry standards, market-driven analytics and best practices in mixed-use development for urban projects ranging from small lots to entire downtowns. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan.

In 2013, Dan left EUA and founded Craft Development, LLC a boutique real estate development firm focused on delivering projects with creative vision, passion, and determination. Over the next five years, Craft Development, LLC completed a wide variety of projects for many of Milwaukee’s most recognized brands including Lakefront Brewery, Saz’s, The University Club of Milwaukee, and Bray Architects.

In 2016, Dan, along with two partners, founded Good City Brewing, LLC. In less than two years, Good City has become one of the most popular and fastest growing breweries in Milwaukee, hosting over 100,000 visitors per year and expanding four times. Good City has received critical acclaim for its beer, food, and space, including winning the 2017 National Double IPA Championship for its Reward Double IPA and the 2018 World Beer Cup Bronze medal for its Film Fest Lager. Good City has been recognized by Milwaukee Magazine, OnMilwaukee.com, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Runner’s World, Draft Magazine, Beer Advocate, The Chicago Tribune, and The Travel Channel.

Beth Reynolds – Economic Development Director, Town of Ashland, MA

“The Corner Spot, The #bestspotintown”

Beth Reynolds serves as the Economic Development Director for the Town of Ashland, MA. Beth is a powerful voice advocating for local small business focusing on developing opportunities for businesses to increase visibility and marketability.  In 2017, she spearheaded the effort to create The Corner Spot, a pop-up business incubator and community park that has sparked great enthusiasm in downtown Ashland. The Corner Spot quickly became the ‘go-to spot’ for small businesses interested in testing the market prior to locating permanently in Ashland.  Now a unique gathering space for local residents, the Corner Spot has increased opportunities for community events and cultural gatherings increasing foot traffic and adding further visibility to downtown businesses. In order to continue to grow Ashland’s commercial base, Beth meets regularly with the business community to develop appropriate tools and resources.

Ari Takata-Vasquez – Owner at Viscera & Creative Director, Viscera Studio

“Creative Solutions–Rethinking Retail Real Estate Loss”

Ari Takata-Vasquez, Viscera- Ari is the founder of Viscera, an all American-made minimalist clothing and 3D printed jewelry brand. She is also the creative director of Viscera’s sister company, Viscera Studio– a small business focused design studio helping entrepreneurs to visualize beautiful ideas. In 2014, Ari opened Viscera’s brick and mortar shop in the heart of Downtown Oakland with the goal of creating a design and community-focused space. Before starting her business, Ari worked as a project manager negotiating commercial leases and leading TI project. She has a Masters in City Planning from the University of California, and a B.A. in architecture from the University of San Francisco.

May yer Thao – Executive Director, Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (HWCC)

“Understanding Culture for Neighborhood Economic Development Success”

May yer “mine-za” Thao is the Executive Director for the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (HWCC), a statewide Community Development Financial Institution headquartered in Milwaukee, whose mission is to provide financial resources and technical assistance (TA) to business and community development activities that improve economic opportunities in low-income and underserved communities, with a special focus on Hmong and Southeast Asian communities.

During her tenure with HWCC, May yer has deployed the most business loans in HWCC history, provided impactful technical guidance and visibility to Southeast Asian American businesses in Wisconsin, and grown the organization with increased members, partners and new initiatives. Under May yer’s leadership, HWCC opened its first satellite office in Central Wisconsin in 2017. To-date, HWCC has deployed over $1.5 million in loan funds while leveraging over $9.5 million in private funds to minority businesses throughout the State.

Bruce Westling – NAI MLG Commercial

“New Faces In Old Spaces: Hotels & Restaurants Creatively Use Vacant Spaces” Panel

An experienced broker and real estate advisor, Bruce has been a leader at NAI MLG Commercial for over 25 years. He is specifically involved with site acquisition, development, site selection and negotiation on behalf of national and international retail clients and developers. Bruce has been at the center of numerous high-profile retail development projects in Wisconsin as well as the acquisition of existing shopping centers nationwide. He also has considerable experience with urban infill and redevelopment projects and in placing tenants in up-and-coming locations. Bruce has become a trusted resource for the public and private sectors due to his extensive knowledge of the Wisconsin market.


2017 Recap

Date: November 6th, 2017

Location: Milwaukee, WI (Neighborhoods: Westown, Haymarket, Downtown, Uptown Crossing, Avenues West, Midtown)

Website: www.emptystorefronts.com

Description: NAIOP WI, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, and NEWaukee present the 3rd Empty Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts. The Empty Storefronts Conference features national and local speakers that have implemented practices and tactics in their own communities and across the country to address vacant storefronts and is hosted in storefronts and neighborhoods across Milwaukee.

Town Bank
von Briesen
Zilber Ltd.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Milwaukee Downtown, BID 21
Quorum Architects
Associated Bank
Urban Milwaukee
Wangard Partners

Website Traffic: 3,310 unique impressions

Social Media
Facebook: 65,609 impressions 
14,139 impressions
13,534 impressions

Attendance: 193 RSVPs

Attendees By Location:

Speaker Presentation Links & Contact Information:

“From Empty Storefronts to Vibrant Developments – How do we get there? | Swasti Shah (Swasti.Shah@uli.org), Urban Land Institute

“Creative Redevelopment of Retail: Driving the Highest and Best Use for Underutilized Real Estate” | Charles Cousland (ccouslan@vonbriesen.com – von Briesen & Roper Real Estate Group), Carolyn Esswein (carolyn@ceplanningstudio.com – Ce Planning Studio), Patrick Schloss (pschloss@westalliswi.gov – City of West Allis), & Adam Purcell (adam.purcell@nm.com – Aggie’s Bakery)

“The Boxyard Development” | Casey Stowe (casey@nelsonstowe.com), Nelson+Stowe Development / Boxyard Development

“Grow Your Retail Sector: How Incubators Can Help Your Community Flourish” | Cody Gunstenson (cgunstenson@buxtonco.com), Buxton Company

““Architecting” Change in the Near West Side” | Allyson Nemec (Allyson@quorumarchitects.com), Quorum Architects

“Creating Place to Fill Space” | Elizabeth Brodek (elizabeth@wausauriverdistrict.org), Wausau River District

“SOUP: A Recipe for Community Entrepreneurship” | Cassie Coravos (cassie@detroitsoup.com), Detroit SOUP

“CoWorking in Storefronts” | Tim Syth (tim@lushproduction.com), 5 Wise Workshop

“Waiting in the Wings – Filling Downtown Vacancies” | Craig Tebon (craig@riponmainst.com), Ripon Main Street

“Equitable Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Detroit” | April Boyle (april@buildinstitute.org), Build Institute

“Reshaping Retail” | Dave Wendland (Dave_Wendland@hamacher.com), Hamacher Resource Group, Inc.

“Building a Profitable Restaurant Incubator” | Ben Mantica (ben@galleygrp.com) & Tyler Benson (tyler@galleygrp.com ), Galley Group

“The Modern Workplace: Designing for the Creative Class” | Burton Metz (bmetz@wangard.com – Wangard), Larry Engel (Bader Rutter), & Jeffrey Garretson (jgarretson@findorff.com – Findorff)

“WindowShopMKE – bringing Holiday life to vacant storefronts | Lyn Falk (lfalk@retailworksinc.com – Retailworks) and Matt Dorner (mdorner@milwaukeedowntown.com – Milwaukee Downtown)

“DeMalling a Mall” | Chris Socha (csocha@tkwa.com), Kubala Washatko Architects

“A View From and of Different Markets” | Jim Neyer (jtneyer@neyer.com), NAIOP

2016 Recap

Date: October 27th, 2016 8:30am – 5:30pm

Location: Madison, WI


Description: NAIOP WI , the Commercial Real Estate Development Associationand NEWaukee present the 2nd Storefronts Conference, a day-long conference that focuses on holistic solutions, national trends, best practices, and success stories that lead to action plans and spark ideas to fill empty storefronts. The Storefronts Conference features national and local speakers that have implemented practices and tactics in their own communities and across the country to address vacant storefronts. The inaugural Empty Storefronts Conference is hosted in storefronts and neighborhoods across Milwaukee.

Eppstein Uhen Architects
Hovde Properties
Majic Productions
Ryan Companies
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Community Partners:
1000 Friends of Wisconsin
City of Madison
Downtown Madison
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Smart Growth Greater Madison
University of Wisconsin – Extension
Visit Madison
Wisconsin Rural Partners

Social Media
8.5k Facebook Users Reached

12,638 LinkedIn Accounts Reached

159 Tweets
170k Twitter Accounts Reached

Attendance: 111 participants

Website Traffic:Unique Visits: 29,656


Attendee Report

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Justin Ley // Hoodstarter – Deathstars, Cows, and Community Meetings: Why crowdsourcing is the future of urban development
Email: justin@hoodstarter.com
Eric Ho //MiLESPROTOTYPING, EXPERIMENTING, & UTILIZING SPACES as a Way to Collaborate and Test New Ideas
Kelsey Otero // Marquette, Near West Side Commercial Corridor Development Working TeamFill That Storefront: Revitalizing Neighborhoods via Small Business Competitions
Nora Schmidt // Viroqua Chamber Main StreetMaking Big with Small and How You Can Fill Storefronts in Your Community Too
Email: nrschmidt@viroqua-wisconsin.com
Line Sandsmark // ShunkpikeWorking with the Wizards of Emerald City
Joe Truesdale & Jenna Floberg // Fond du LacOh Crepe! A Pop Up Fond du Lac Story
Email: joetruesdale@gmail.com
Rachel Quednau // Strong TownsSmall Bets To Build Strong Towns
Email: quednau@strongtowns.org
Anthony Askew // Motor City Match – Motor City Match for Small Business & Developers
Email: aaskew@degc.org
Amy Griel & Francisco Loyola // Kenosha Creative SpaceBe Careful What You Wish For
Matt Wagner // National Main Streets Inc.New Trends in Filling Storefronts along Main Street
Email: MWagner@savingplaces.org
Gary Toth // Project for Public SpacesStreets as Places
Mike Slavish // Hovde Properties – A Developer’s Dilemma: What to do When the Numbers Don’t Add Up (No Presentation)
Email: mslavish@hovdeproperties.com


How To Fill Those Empty Storefronts
Urban Milwaukee
Oct 26th, 2016


“Just wanted to congratulate you on a great conference.  Truly enjoyed it and picked up some great ideas and contacts while there”

— Matt Wagner Ph.D., VP of Community Revitalization, National Main Streets Center, Inc (Chicago, IL)

“Thanks so much for inviting us to speak at the Empty Storefronts conference. We had a lot of fun.”

— Justin Ley, Co-Founder, Hoodstarter

“What a pleasure to chat with you and to be part of the Vacant Storefronts Conference yesterday. Bravo to you and your team for a well executed event and for the remarkable things you are doing as educators and “do-ers” in your community.”

— Nora Schmidt, Executive Director, Viroqua Chamber Main Street

“I just wanted to write and say thanks for inviting me to the Storefronts Conference.  It was a lot of fun and you guys did a great job organizing.  Looking forward to hearing if some positive results ensue.”

— Jeff Wood Principle, The Overhead Wire

“I hope all is well. I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for the invitation to last week’s conference. I connected with some great people and thoroughly enjoyed the presentations I got to see. I wish I’d been able to see more, but I look forward to reviewing the presentations to learn more about other great things happening across the country. I also got great feedback on my presentation with a highly engaged audience. Kudos to you and your team for orchestrating a stellar event.”

 —  Anthony L. Askew Program Manager, Motor City Match Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

“You, the Newaukee team and the crew of NAIOP-WI are fabulous! It was truly an honor to be part of the day. Definitely excited to stay in touch and crossing fingers we’ll find ways to do more work together :)”

— Carol Stakenas Executive Director, No Longer Empty

Thank you to our sponsors:

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2018 sponsorships are still available! Put yourself in front of leading professionals from the creative, economic development, commercial real estate and development industries.

Please contact Jim Villa, Chief Executive Officer, NAIOP Wisconsin, Ph: 414.870.1873 E: jim@naiop-wi.org